The sad felling of the Sycamore tree which stood by Hadrians wall brought condemnation from all around the world. Tree, I also admired and enjoyed, viewed on my many journeys to Scotland, travelling on the B road adjacent to the wall in favour of the main A69. It even featured on the company brochure in 2015. Does one tree matter, after all it was a sycamore which is prolific and a self-seeding species at that. Obviously, it did matter as the loss was featured by many and acknowledged on a global scale akin to the loss of a head of state.

The outrage indicates how society values the natural world, however in contrast last year you may wish to consider roughly half a million trees were felled in the Amazon rainforest. The loss of 11,000 sq km of natural habitat, home to millions of living species and the loss of nature’s own carbon capture resource.  

Yet little is said or done, the wood burnt and the valuable lumbar hauled away ending up in developing countries making home furniture for the world market. In the 90s JC Atkinson was the first company to stop buying wood unless it was from a proven sustainable source. Solid Mahogany coffins a then a cheaper hardwood than Oak, no one cared or even questioned the huge sawn logs of mahogany wood, which could be 4 foot wide. Sold and purchased many times without thought or consideration to others. 


We followed up by becoming the first coffin company to join the Forest Stewardship Council, an organisation which certifies sustainable wood using a chain of custody from forest to product. The trade followed, the Coop and then Dignity and others thereafter. As a supplier of coffins to the trade many did care and implemented changes which over years have compounded and probably saved many 10,000s of trees.      

“Tree” earned its celebrity status, it grew alongside the antagonistic Hadrians Wall erected to divide and conquer, but with perfect composure with the support of the natural beauty of Northumberland. The tree transcended the folly of humanity. Its passing was rightfully moaned. 


by Julian Atkinson

*The annual rate of deforestation in the Amazon estimated in 2022 was 11,568 km², according to official data from the Legal Amazon Deforestation Satellite Monitoring Project (PRODES), of the National Institute for Space Research (INPE).